Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Tonight at the Rosendale!

I love the Rosendale Theatre Collective, a not-for-profit organization in the little burg that lies midway between New Paltz, where I now live, and Kingston, where I will move at the end of the month. Luckily Rosendale will still be close enough that I can continue to participate in the Programming Committee.

It was in this capacity that I suggested the classic 1935 film of the Hollywood Bowl production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, directed by the renown German director Max Reinhardt. Because it's pretty much midsummer, and to honor Mickey Rooney who died this year, we decided to give it a try.

I love this movie, and I especially like Rooney's antic and unique portrayal of Puck. He was 14 years old but looked about six, and had more energy than a barrel of monkeys. He squeals, squeaks, shouts and bounces in a way I've never seen any actor do, in the role of Puck or any other. One of the critics of the day thought he was trying too hard to be cute--but that's nonsense. Mickey Rooney was the personification of cute, especially as a kid, and I have no doubt that the source of those squeals and squeaks was Reinhardt himself, a seasoned director who had a raw natural talent on his hands and took full advantage of it. Rooney's Puck is not cuddly or sentimental--he's a imp of the first magnitude, daring and pesky, totally detestable one minute and charming the next. Quicksilver, lightning escaped from the bottle.

The production is astonishing partly because it was in black and white. It appears to have been shot through chiffon sheets sprinkled with sequins, and lit by fireflies. James Cagney does a creditable turn as Bottom, and the film introduces a young beauty named Olivia De Havilland.

A Midsummer Night's Dream was nominated for a few Oscars and won two--one notable because it's the only time in the history of the institution that an Oscar was won by write-in vote. Hal Mohr, the cinematographer, took home a statuette even though he had not been nominated.

I call that magic. In fact, everything about this movie is magic. Hop in to Rosendale at 7:15 tonight and I'll be happy to show you!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

A Complicated Move

By the end of the month I'll be entirely ready to move into a new home, the house I'm in the process of purchasing in Kingston, NY. This will be a big change for me in many ways, which I'll go into in a minute.

I'm still awaiting a date for closing on the property, at which time I have to have homeowner's insurance, proof of sale for a line of credit to do renovations, and I hope to have made selections on the finishes for the necessary improvements to the beautiful old modified Queen Anne I shall call home. There's some conflict between the two owners (a divorcing couple) but no question that I shall get the house.

I've been packing for weeks, and still am doing so. I probably need about ten more cartons from the liquor store for books, CDs, files, office supplies and documents. Really just a few more hours once I get the cartons and buckle down to work.

I didn't anticipate the sudden death of Nancy Cain, a lifetime friend who would have enjoyed hearing me go on about all the glitches, hitches, decisions, and changes of mind I've gone through as the day to move nears. I'll take a few days to fly to Alabama and speak at her memorial celebration Monday. Everybody involved is stressed not only by our loss of a delightful, loving friend, but also by the planning of a suitable event to observe and work through our emotions. I'll leave Albany at about noon tomorrow, so my packing includes deciding what I'm going to wear and what I'll take to wear at the service. I'll leave to return before dawn on Tuesday after what will certainly be a wrenching, painful day among old friends and family, all of whom loved and most of whom depended upon Nancy on some level. Our hearts will be bare as we share memories and try to hold ourselves and each other together.

Life goes on, and I hope not too be too emotional to function when I return. Tuesday night is the first time I've produced the presentation of a film at the Rosendale. I thought, a few months ago, not anticipating the events to come, that it was a good idea to present a fitting tribute to Mickey Rooney by showing what I think is probably his best film performance, the role of Puck in the 1935 movie of A Midsummer Night's Dream. There is a lot of interest in this showing, and I hope this results in at least 50 people in attendance, otherwise I miscalculated and may be responsible for a bit of a flop my first time out. I don't even know if I can be at the production, but I hope I can and I hope it is a success.

The next item on my life's agenda is engaging a mover, organizing my stuff and myself, and physically getting to the closing and the move to Kingston. It should be an exciting, happy day, sometime around the 27th of June, but at this point it's a cliffhanger. I have too much to think about. I'll have Nancy with me all the way, pulling for it all to come out all right, and that gives me the encouragement I need to keep trying.